Silk Road Created by Goat Herders – Carried Pathogens

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“Archaeology documents the development of mountain-herding economies in highland Asia as early as 3000 B.C., and we argue that centuries of ecologically strategic mobility on the part of these herders etched the foundational routes and geography of ancient trans-Asian trade networks,”

“This model demonstrates that these rugged mountains were not huge barriers that forced regional communities into isolation, but acted as channels for economic and political forms of participation that supported long-standing connections between neighboring communities,” Frachetti said. “It illustrates that civilization’s greatest accomplishments — evidenced in the amazing scale of Silk Road connectivity — often arise organically in environments where connectivity is the norm; isolation here would be a formula for disaster.”

“Our study is the first to use archaeological evidence from a site on the Silk Road to demonstrate that travellers were taking infectious diseases with them over these huge distances.”

The Silk Road (or Silk Route) came to prominence during the Han Dynasty in China (202 BC — AD 220) as merchants, explorers, soldiers and government officials journeyed between East Asia and the Middle East/Mediterranean region.

Researchers have previously suggested that diseases such as bubonic plague, anthrax and leprosy might have been carried by ancient travellers along the legendary trading route, as similar strains have been found in China and Europe.

for all their apparently hygienic innovations — intestinal parasites such as whipworm, roundworm and Entamoeba histolytica dysentery did not decrease as expected in Roman times compared with the preceding Iron Age, they gradually increased.

Not only did certain intestinal parasites appear to increase in prevalence with the coming of the Romans, but Mitchell also found that, despite their famous culture of regular bathing, ‘ectoparasites’ such as lice and fleas were just as widespread among Romans as in Viking and medieval populations, where bathing was not widely practiced.

“The manufacture of fish sauce and its trade across the empire in sealed jars would have allowed the spread of the fish tapeworm parasite from endemic areas of northern Europe to all people across the empire. This appears to be a good example of the negative health consequences of conquering an empire,” he said.

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